Knoxville groups explain impact of possible federal budget cuts

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Two non-profits in Knoxville, United Way of Greater Knoxville and the Boys and Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, will be facing changes if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget stays the way it is.

“Section 8 housing, federally subsidized housing, there are a number of programs here just in the immediate Knox County and surrounding area that could impact veterans getting low cost housing. It could affect seniors having access to lower cost housing based on income. It could affect people with disabilities. I say could. There’s that looming possibility.” said Ben Landers, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Knoxville.

The Boys and Girls Club of Tennessee Valley will inevitably face changes, specifically in the afternoon meals and snacks provided for 1,800 students Monday through Friday.

More online: Read President Trump’s budget blueprint

“It’s obviously going to be predicated on what the final cut looks like. The reality is some of the conversation is around programs that benefit the kids we’re currently serving.  We’re serving 500,000 meals and snacks a year to the kids we have in our clubs here in East Tennessee. Or the fact that we’re able to provide educational opportunities for kids, through 21st learning opportunities.” said Bart McFadden, president of the Boys and Girls Club Tennessee Valley.

Ultimately, Mcfadden says it’s too early to tell how these proposed changes will show in the everyday operations of the organization.

The budget also calls for cuts to agencies that fund the arts, humanities and public media. The budget proposes to eliminate 19 agencies, including the $148 million that goes to fund the National Endowment For the Arts.

The Knoxville Opera gets both direct grant money from the NEA as well as money that is included in annual Tennessee Arts Commission funding. According to the opera’s executive director, it will lose roughly $23,000 to $33,000 each year in federal funding, which would mean major changes in performances, productions and community outreach.

Related: President Trump’s budget proposal eliminates funding for Appalachian projects, programs

“It’s not easy to snap your fingers and replace funding if it’s in the tens of thousands of dollars. I can get another hundred dollar contribution. It’s very difficult to get a $10,000 to $50,000 contribution. So we’re all going to have to make decisions about how much our education outreach programming, it might have to come back. Or the main funding of the basics that we do. Whether we’re the symphony or the opera or the museum. We’re going to have to make certain fundamental decisions – this season we can no longer do x, y, and z. And that can directly affect the public. It’s access to the programming and the actual programming offered,” said Executive Director Brian Salesky.

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